All Things Matcha

If you are someone who is like me and can’t go a day without coffee and/or you are looking for a coffee substitute, this post will hopefully entice you to make matcha a part of your wellness routine!

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What is Matcha?

With matcha you are literally drinking the actual dried leaves which have been stone-ground into a fine powder [matcha means “powdered tea”] – providing you with the full benefits of its antioxidants, vitamins and caffeine. With traditional green tea, components of the leaves are steeped into hot water, then get discarded.

Benefits

Since I began drinking copious amounts of matcha, I frequently have been asked why matcha over green tea? Truthfully, after researching everything/anything matcha and learning about the endless amounts of amazing health benefits, I officially became hooked on this “super potent” green tea – how can you not!? Here is a list of just the few benefits this nutrient-dense powerhouse has to offer:

  • High in Antioxidants
    – 137x more than green tea
    – 17x more than blueberries
    – 6x more than gogiberries
  • Energy Booster
    – Matcha can help your body burn calories 4x than normal – yes and yes!
  • Anti-Aging
    – Matcha helps reduce inflammation and oxidation to help you look and feel youthful
  • Great Detoxifier
    – Matcha as a high concentration of chlorophyll [my favourite], which helps eliminate chemicals from your body
    – Matcha’s vibrant green colour comes from high levels of chlorophyll – If you know me, you know  that I am obsessed with this nutrient powerhouse and can’t go a day without “green water” [blog post to come on all things chlorophyll]
  • High in L-theanine
    – Matcha has an amino acid that promotes relaxation and enhances memory + reaction time

Where to Purchase

My favourite place to purchase matcha is at Davids Tea [is anyone else obsessed?] – there is an abundance of matcha [+ other tea] flavours which will suit everyone’s taste buds:

Flavoured

  • Blueberry Matcha
  • Vanilla Matcha – Favourite
  • Peach Matcha
  • Strawberry Matcha
  • Honeydew Matcha
  • Mint Matcha
  • Maple Matcha

Traditional

  • Grand Cru Matcha – Favourite
  • Matcha  Matsu

Recipes

To be quite honest, when I first started drinking matcha tea, I absolutely did not love the taste – I found it to be quite bitter. However, once I started getting creative with ways to incorporate matcha into either my food [i.e., chia seed pudding] or drinks [i.e., smoothie + latte], I began to really enjoy  the taste and now I can’t go a day without matcha! Here are two of my favourite ways to incorporate matcha and to boost my energy throughout the day:

Matcha Latte

INGREDIENTS

  • Utensils: matcha whisk + perfect matcha spoon
  • 1-2 “perfect matcha spoonfuls” matcha green tea [of your choice]
  • 1/2 cup milk or non-dairy milk – I love using coconut milk
  • 2 tbs + 1/2 cup of warm water
  • Optional [added flavour] – 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • Optional [added sweetness] – 1 tbs of sweetener [i.e., agave, honey, maple syrup]

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Add matcha into a bowl
  2. Pour 2 tbs of warm water into a bowl [covering the matcha powder]
  3. In an “M” formation, use your matcha whisk and whisk until there are no matcha clumps
  4. Pour the whisked matcha and 1/2 cup of warm water into a mug
  5. Add vanilla extract and/or sweetener
  6. Froth milk and pour over matcha mixture

Matcha Chia Seed Pudding

If you read my blog post on Superfood Smoothies, you will know that I love chia seeds and all of the benefits that come along with this superfood; a fantastic and tasty way to incorporate matcha in your food is either via a smoothie or chia seed pudding:

INGREDIENTS

  • Utensils: matcha whisk + perfect matcha spoon
  • Medium sized sealable container/jar – I love using a mason jar
  • 1-2 “perfect matcha spoonfuls” matcha green tea [of your choice]
  • 2 tbs warm water
  • 1/2 cup milk or non-dairy milk – again, I love using coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup chia seeds
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tbs of sweetener [i.e., agave, honey, maple syrup]
  • Optional Toppings – fruit [blueberries, strawberries, raspberries], granola and/or nuts

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Pour milk and add chia seeds into a medium sized container/jar – stir to combine
  2. In a small bowl, add matcha powder
  3. Pour warm water into the bowl [covering the matcha powder]
  4. In an “M” formation, use your matcha whisk and whisk until there are no matcha clumps
  5. Add matcha mixture, sweetener and vanilla into the chia seed mixture – stir
  6. Place in the fridge for at least 2-3 hours, or let it sit overnight
  7. Top  with your favourite fruit [blueberries, strawberries], granola and/or nuts

Cheers to caffeine [sustainable daily energy] and drinking all things green +  nutrient dense!

Lots of love,

Sara Locke – XOXO

Stepping Outside of Your Comfort Zone

Roughly two years ago, the company that I work for began a “Commit-to-Fit” challenge. The goal of this workplace-wellness challenge was to provide our team with the opportunity to enhance their overall health and well-being through proper nutrition and regular exercise [CrossFit workouts – 3x a week] – amazing, right!?

When the initial communication came through with regards to this fitness challenge, to say I was hesitant to join is an understatement. Although fitness has always played a massive part in my life and is a true passion of mine, CrossFit intimidated me, on many different levels – I always told myself, “CrossFit just isn’t for me. I can’t lift heavy weights – I am just not strong enough to fit into the community. “

After days of going back and forth about whether or not to join the Commit-to-Fit challenge, I had one colleague/friend [Matt] who truly became my driving force to join. He would say to me, “its important to step outside of your comfort zone and to try something that is unfamiliar/challenging – this is the only way you will continue to grow”. He was right, it was time to put all of my preconceived notions aside about CrossFit and to truly know what it is like to grow personally in an uncomfortable situation; from that moment on, my fitness and wellness journey changed forever. Not only did I enjoy CrossFit and the amazing CrossFit Vortex community I got to know and love, I finally began committing myself to a regular/consistent fitness routine, proper nutrition and began to find that spark [that once was lit] for my passion of everything health + wellness.

Matt does not know this yet [hey Matt! – if you are reading this] but he truly continues to inspire me on a daily basis. He is someone who wholeheartedly committed himself to not only this workplace-wellness challenge, he also made the personal commitment to change his life around via living a healthy lifestyle through proper nutrition and consistent exercise. Matt is the epitome of how challenging yourself by facing the unknown can honestly change your life in the most positive and beautiful way!

With the hopes to inspire someone else to let go of the familiar and embrace the new, here is Matt’s story on how his health and wellness journey has changed his life:

My Health + Wellness Journey| Matt Courtemanche

How did your health an wellness journey begin?

My health and wellness journey began on December 27th, 2015 at the back end of Christmas.  At that point, I didn’t really know where to start.  So, with baby steps, I started to work on controlling food portions and what I was drinking.  With drinks, I chose to stay away from pop, juice and alcohol.  The healthier choices I made were carbonated water and regular water.  For food, I started with CICO (Calories In, Calories Out) and went with around 1600 calories per day.

For me, my fitness journey became a lot about momentum.  Once I saw results, I just kept going.  Had to change clothes twice and I started to cook more which also became a passion of mine.  Three months after this, I joined a workout class twice a week with co-workers and got a membership at a gym, which I went to six times a week.  From there, I found CrossFit and I fell in love with it.

Overall, I’m not different from anyone else, I have my hobbies, passions and the stuff I dislike.  I just try to take it one day at time.

Lets talk, mental wellness and what it means to you.

Mental wellness has always been difficult for me.  I’ve had bouts of depression on and off for about 18 years.  However, I hit a real low about 8 years ago when I couldn’t really see hope in anything that I did.  My weight increased, I was unhappy and hated myself and I stay away from everything with the exceptions of a couple of friends and a few family members.  I started realizing that many of the problems I was having was due to me and only me.  I started to try and find out why I felt depressed and started to take measures to properly take control of my life.  Even to this day, I still have bad days but now I’m better equipped to understand when they are happening and how to control it.  I have listened to podcasts, read books, and watched many videos.  However, the main key has been to talk with people that are close to me.  Whether it has been an issue on a situation, a life-style choice or something that I just needed to get off my chest, this was the best decision I ever made.  Mental wellness is so important to everyone and I try to manage it as best I can because it can definitely take you off the road that you want to travel on.

How did you get into CrossFit and how has it changed your life?

CrossFit means the world to me.  It was synchronistic on how I ended up there.  There was a poll for co-workers to select a new workout routine and CrossFit was one of the options.  Thankfully, everyone selected it.  I don’t think that I could have ended up at a better affiliate than CrossFit Vortex.  Kristi as the owner has brought more to my life than just working out.  They have taught me about nutrition, mindset, doing things the right the first time and to fight through hard things everyday.  They make me laugh, give me a kick in butt, a pat on the back and many times, a wise word.  The mindset training has helped in having a new outlook on difficult situations and it helps reduce my stress levels daily.  Also, CrossFit brings together many people from different aspects of life and it is really cool to meet and hang out with new people daily.  Plus, you’re all in the trenches, slogging through the daily WOD and you get to become friends with others.  Sometimes, CrossFit gets a bad rap from social media but it truly works for me. I think that when it comes to getting healthier, you have to do what works for you and stick by it.   I have fallen in love with this sport and it is privilege to get to do it everyday.

I wouldn’t go out and say that my lifestyle is still the healthiest.  However, I cannot stress how much better than it was before.  When I was at my heaviest, I couldn’t stay awake, had no energy and was always running out of breath.  When I did exercise, I was sore for three days and I felt like many days, I was not going to get out of bed.  Now with exercising and eating healthier, I have energy all the time and I feel like I can do any exercise at the drop of a hat.  It also helps me to be able to help others.  I can help team members around the office with lifting heavy items, I can help do things for my family that I wasn’t able to do before.  It falls in with the old adage “You need to help yourself first, before you help others”.  I feel like many days, I can take on the world.

What inspires you to continue your health and wellness jounrey?

I didn’t really have a fitness inspiration at first.  I think that I was more motivated to try not to die before I was forty.  Obviously, we can never prepare for that but I wanted to give myself a way better chance.  Oddly enough, the more I started discussing healthy living with people, the more I became inspired.  I learned about different eating and workout plans and found out about resources that helped others.   The biggest tool that I have used is Instagram.  However, you need to be able to tell the difference between an account that is trying to sell fitness and an account that is trying to promote healthy living.  Now, my inspiration is drawn to many everyday people who are living their fitness goals and dreams.

What advice would you give to someone wanting to start their own journy?

My advice to anyone that is starting out is that the first step is always the hardest.  To take that step, you are going to have to step out of your comfort zone and examine some uncharted territory.  However, it will be the best thing that you can do.  Being out of your comfort zone will help you to grow as an individual and it will help you to be better in the long run.  Also, you are not going to build fitness in one day.  This is crucial as sometimes you will plateau with results and your perseverance on those days with get you through.  This is not a diet, not a three-week plan.  It needs to be a lifestyle change.

Cheers to embracing the uncertainty and to new health + wellness beginnings – after all, life begins at the end off your comfort zone.

Lots of love,

Sara Locke – XOXO

 

Superfood Smoothies

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If there is one you should know about me, it is that I absolutely love a nutrient dense smoothie in the Morning – smoothies are super quick [I am always on the go] and extremely nutritious + delicious! Honestly, what better way to start your day!?

In my last blog post [Morning Routine],  I mentioned that my “go-to” smoothies incorporate the “Fab Four” formula developed by the stunning holistic expert and nutritionist Kelly LeVeque [Be Well By Kelly – #bewellsmoothie]. To further understand the benefits of this formula, I would highly recommend listening to the fantastic podcast episode with The Skinny Confidential and Be Well By Kelly –  podcast link. It is honestly so informational!

Incorporated into my smoothies are amazing superfoods that are nutrient dense and provide a ton of health benefits – here are some of my absolute favorites:

Maca Powder

Maca Powder [aka. magic powder] has been a recent addition to my smoothie and lets just say, I wish I added this superfood sooner – I am honestly addicted! What is Maca you ask? The Maca plant grows in central Peru in the high plateaus of the Andes mountains. With its root used for medicinal, this plant had quickly gained popularity as there are so many amazing health benefits surrounding the consumption of Maca – I mean, the butterscotch like taste is also an added bonus:

  • Increases energy levels
  • Improves sex drive [gives a real libido boost]+ improves fertility
  • Regulates hormone balance
  • Reduces anxiety + enhances mental clarity [reduces cortisol levels]
  • Improves acne
  • Improves hair growth

Spirulina

I have to admit, when I tried spirulina for the first time, I absolutely did not love it – for some reason I could not get used to the  “earthiness” taste. However, after giving spirulina a few chances by integrating small amounts at a time [i.e., 1/2 a teaspoon], I soon could not live without spirulina powder in my smoothies – now, I even quite enjoy the taste [quite refreshing in nature – no pun intended]! For those who are not privy to spirulina, is a type of bacteria [microalgae] referred to as “blue-green alga” and it grows in both fresh + salt water. A single tablespoon of spirulina powder provides an immense amount of nutrients that are essential for your body [just about every nutrient we need]:

  • Protein [4 grams] + contains all of the amino acids we need
  • Vitamin B1
  • Vitamin B2
  • Vitamin B3
  • Copper
  • Iron

When I first started researching everything and anything spirulina, I was surprised to learn that it is also an incredible source of protein [very high] – I mean, how amazing is that! As a Pescetarian and someone with a highly restrictive diet due to food allergies/intolerances, I often have a difficult time finding a good protein source for my smoothies.  Depending on what type of ingredients I put in my smoothie, aside from hemp protein I am loving that spirulina is an additional protein option!

Seeds [Flax + Chia]

Flax and chia seeds are absolute favourites of mine at the moment. Just like the other ingredients I use, there are so many amazing benefits to consuming both flax and chia seeds:

Flax Seeds

In addition to being a complete protein, flax seeds are high in fiber which aids in digestion. What I also love about flax seeds is that it is fabulous for your hair and skin due to the fatty acids and B vitamins it contains –  I am 100% up for consuming anything that will help my hair healthy and skin glowing!

Chia Seeds

For good reason, chia seeds are trending at the moment – although I consume a lot of these seeds throughout the day, If I could sprinkle them on everything I eat, I 100% would! Similar to flax seeds, chia seeds are a fantastic source of fiber, protein, calcium, magnesium and zinc – they also make you feel full as they expand [into a jelly like substance]. I mean, what more can you ask for in a seed!?

Greens [Spinach]

A handful of greens is an absolute must in my smoothies – it is honestly the perfect way to get them in each day! Although I sometimes use kale, spinach is my number “go-to” green; it blends perfectly and you can’t even taste it [I promise]! Loaded with tons of nutrients, spinach is rich in omega-3s, iron, protein and vitamins [A, C + E] and has an amazing ability to restore your energy levels and improve the quality of your blood. Better yet, this dark, leafy green is fantastic for your bone health, skin and hair – Popeye was definitely on to something with his spinach consumption!

Cheers to loving yourself enough to fuel your body with fabulous nutrient dense superfood smoothies!

Lots of love,

Sara Locke – XOXO

Morning Routine

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There is nothing that I love more than starting my day off with a strong mindset to tackle a busy workday that lies ahead; with this, comes a well-rounded morning routine focusing on my physical and mental well-being. A wise man [Benjamin Franklin] once said, “daily habits create success – early to bed, early to rise, makes you healthy, wealthy and wise.”

As an HR Leader, I often wear many hats – this means I need to ensure that I am mentally prepared to switch gears [tasks] at any point throughout the day in order to be the best leader I can be for my amazing team. So what does a typical Morning look like for me prior to heading into the office?

5AM Wake-up Call

I usually begin each Morning with a 5AM wake-up call [bright + early]. I know 5AM may seem beyond early, but honestly, this is a perfect time for me to wake up and build mindfulness first thing in the Morning prior to getting my fitness on at F45 – trust me, it works and your body will thank you! Also, real talk – there is something so magical about waking up early in Toronto while the city lights are still beaming and at the streets are peaceful [talk about Zen]!

Lemon Water + Apple Cider Vinegar

Waking up  to lemon water with apple cider vinegar [+ sometimes honey and chia seeds] is honestly a dream and beyond refreshing! Maybe it is because I love all things lemon, but what better way to kick-start your productive day than with an amazing beverage [hot or cold] which contains so many health benefits:

  • Keeps your skin blemish free
    – The vitamin C component in lemons will help decrease wrinkles and blemishes; your skin will look/feel rejuvenated, clean and glowing [yes and yes!]
  • Restores the pH balance + reduces inflammation 
    – Lemon is one of the most alkaline foods you can find, which will aid in reducing your body’s overall acidity levels
  • Boosts the immune system + fights infections
    – Lemons are high in vitamin C which is the most important macro-nutrient for our Immune System [bye bye colds]
  • Detoxifies the liver + aids in kidney function
    – Lemon water will help flush out any unwanted material, while preventing calcium build up in the kidney

Journaling – Five Minute Journal

If you have yet to purchase the Five Minute Journal, I would 100% suggest heading to your local Chapters/Indigo or even Amazon to purchase one – this journal is a must-have to start [and end] your day on a positive note/with gratitude. Based on positive psychology research, the Five Minute Journal has been designed to improve your overall well-being and happiness by focusing on the good in your life and becoming more mindful. Amazing right!?

The Five Minute Journal consists of both a Morning routine and an Evening routine:

Morning Routine

  • Gratitude List – Three things you are grateful for
  • Creating a Better Day – Three things that would  make your day great
  • Daily Affirmation – A statement of what you want in your life

Evening Routine

  • The Amazing Three – Three amazing things that happened during your day
  • Making the Day Better – A statement of what you would change throughout your day

Physical Activity

Physical activity first thing in the Morning has quickly become a part of my daily routine.  Alongside many health benefits [i.e., brain cell growth, boosts mood and combats stress], without-a-doubt, I feel stronger both mentally and physically – let’s just say, I feel like I can conquer anything the day brings me with a positive attitude, bright smile and a sense of ease!

Alongside running and pilates, F45 [functional fitness in 45-minutes] has quickly become an obsession of mine and I thank three of my best girlfriends for being my inspiration to join such an outstanding community! For those who are curious, F45 was founded in Australia [2012] with one idea in mind – to offer a 45 minute high-intensity circuit training workout. Trust me, you will never walk out of  an F45 studio without sweating! What I love about F45 is that every day is a different workout; a workout is never repeated as each class is carefully designed from a database of over 3,000 different exercises.

Side Note: Shout-out to the F45 Bayview Village team for welcoming me with open arms and for always pushing me beyond my limits each class [just what I need]!

Meditation

Meditation is very new for me, thanks to The Skinny Confidential [I am OBSESSED with her Podcast]! Quite truthfully, the thought of meditation was quite intimidating/scary as I am someone who is “on-the-go” all of the time and it is tough for me to truly relax. However, to ensure I am the best version of myself when I step into the office each day, I knew that meditation would help me become more “zen-like” – at least I am still hoping!

Following my workout, I try my best to take the time to listen to a guided meditation for at least 5-10 minutes [that is really all you need] – so far, I am LOVING it! Although at times I find my thoughts drifting all over the place and I can’t stay focused on the guide, I know that this is completely normal and with time, my meditation practice will only improve. Some amazing meditation Apps to help you get started on your meditation journey are: [1] Head Space [2] Insight Timer [3] Calm – I would suggest the Guided Meditations to start!

Brain Fuel – Fab 4 Smoothie

I am someone who absolutely loves smoothies – it is quick, delicious and super nutritious. However, I must admit, I was someone who use to love having copious amounts of fruit in my smoothie [thanks Booster Juice for the intro years ago]; after listening to a Skinny Confidential Podcast featuring holistic expert and nutritionist Kelly LeVeque I soon realized that although adding fruit is completely OK [limit to 1/4 cup of fructose], too much fruit will only increase your blood sugar and will eventually store as fat.

To help balance blood sugar and to keep you full, Kelly developed a formula called “Fab Four” which is a combination of Protein, Fat, Fiber and Greens [includes superfoods]. She not only uses this formula for smoothies, but for every day nutrition – what a perfect and simple formula to follow, right!? I have two “go-to” smoothies that I absolutely love [thank you Kelly]:

Spa Smoothie

1 serving of protein powder [I use hemp seed protein]
1/4 avocado
1 tbsp of chia seeds
1 tbsp of flax seeds
1 tbsp of maca powder
1 tsp of spirulina
5 drops of BioSil collagen
Juice from a small lemon [3 tbs]
1 handful of spinach
1 small cucumber [peeled]
1/4 cup of mint
1/2 cup of  coconut water
1/2 cups of water

“Cinnamon Toast Crunch” Smoothie

1 serving of protein powder [I use hemp seed protein]
1/4 avocado
1 tbsp of chia seeds
1 tbsp of flax seeds
1 tbsp of maca powder
1 tbsp of cocoa
1 tsp of cinnamon
1 tbsp of sunflower seed butter
5 drops of BioSil collagen
1 handful of spinach
1/4 cup of banana
1 date [optional – for added sweetness]
1/2 cup of unsweetend coconut milk
1/2 cups of water

Podcasts

I truly believe in continuous personal and professional development. So much so, that I have made a promise to myself to take the time to do at least one professional development activity [PDA] a day. As a “lone-wolf” in HR for the company I work for, I am continuously looking to enhance my skill-sets any chance get [daily motto: you cant grow without learning]. What better way to be inspired and to set yourself up for success each day than by listening to a motivational podcast any time/any where [i.e., cleaning, folding laundry, doing your makeup, driving, etc.] – how efficient right!? Believe me, if you are not privy to podcasts, I highly recommend you hop on the train or at least give it a try – there is a ton of amazing experts in various fields you can gain knowledge from and they do not cost money!

Some of my absolute favourite podcasts that I listen to on a regular basis are:

  • The Skinny Confidential
  • The Rich Roll Podcast
  • The School of Greatness – Lewis Howes
  • Oprah’s Super Soul Conversations + Master Class
  • The Tony Robbins Podcast
  • The Tim Ferris Show
  • The Gary Vee Audio Experience
  • The Joe Rogan Experience

Cheers to early morning routines and setting yourself up for success on a daily basis!

Lots of love,

Sara Locke – XOXO

Long Luscious Locks – Favourite Products

I often receive many complements and questions about how I grow my hair so long and how I keep it so healthy. Though I am extremely humbled by everyones compliments, I wish I had a definite answer to provide, because, the truth is, I am really not 100% certain  – I often owe it to my genetics and my fabulous hair stylist! In my best attempt to answer questions I have received about the products I use on a regular basis, I hope you find one [if not all] of these products and tips useful to “up your hair game” and to keep your hair healthy + hopefully growing!

Silk Pillowcase

If you have never used a silk pillowcase [must say 100% natural silk fibres], I would suggest after reading this post, ditch your cotton pillowcase and head out to purchase one ASAP – I promise you, you will not regret it! Two years ago, I received a silk pillowcase as a Christmas gift and lets just say, this silky piece of heaven is a beauty product that I cannot live without!

Rather than robbing your hair of moisture and causing damage like cotton pillowcases, silk pillowcases in fact, has the opposite affect! Due to its silky smooth surface, not only does a silk pillowcase help retain your fabulous blow-outs that you probably spent hours perfecting one morning, it is also designed to target specific beauty concerns such as, preventing wrinkles/dry skin and reducing “bed head”/brittle locks [causing split ends, breakage and static]. Can I get an “Amen”!?

Product Link

Dry Bar – Slumber Party

Coconut Oil Hair Mask

I try my best to take the time on a Sunday [about once a month] to deep condition my hair with coconut oil by creating a Coconut Oil Hair Mask. You may be thinking [and trust me, I did too], “won’t this mask make your hair oily?” To be honest, it did not make my hair oily at all; just beyond silky soft and smelling like the tropics!

Rather than purchasing a Coconut Oil Hair Mask, I like to make the hair treatment myself. Using solely certified organic, raw, virgin coconut oil [room temperature], here are the directions for the hair mask that I make:

  1. Using a handful of coconut oil at a time, rub between your hands [this will help melt the coconut oil]
  2. Evenly distribute throughout your hair, using your fingers like a comb
    – To be honest, I do not have much of a strategy for this
    – I apply roughly 1-2 more handfuls of coconut oil as I distribute
  3. Massage your scalp using your fingers tips
    – This helps stimulate the blood for and hair growth
  4. Twist your hair into a high bun and secure it with a clip
  5. Leave in for 1-hour [or longer – depending on your preference]
  6. Rinse and wash your hair thoroughly with shampoo and conditioner

Mythic Oil  [L’oreal Professional]

Mythic Oil is a L’oreal Professional product that my hair stylist introduced me to about five years ago. Designed for all hair types, Mythic Oil is a blend of two amazing oils:  grape seed oil and avocado oil.  From the moment she put this product into my hair, I instantly fell in love and have never looked back. When someone asks me about what product I use for my hair, I always reference Mythic Oil – it leaves my hair feeling strong, supple and shiny!

Although you can put this product onto to dry hair, I only use Mythic Oil when my hair is wet [prior to blow drying]. To avoid making your hair feel oily,  my trick is to only use one [max two] pumps and I avoid putting the product near my roots making sure I only put the product mid-way down my head/hair to my ends.

Product Link

Amazon – Mythic Oil

BioSil [Hair, Skin and Nails]

BioSil it is honestly a product I cannot live without! Trust me when I say that your hair will never grow faster and look healthier/shiner than ever before – it is also amazing for your skin and nails! Unlike may topical treatments [such as the products I listed previously], BioSil works from the inside out. Linked with three “beauty proteins” [collagen, elastin and keratin], BioSil provides the body the ability to essentially “un-do” any damage to your skin, nails and hair – amazing right!?

To mask the taste of BioSil [I use the liquid instead of the capsules – it lasts longer], I love adding it into my smoothie each morning! This is a perfect way to ensure that I not only kick-start my morning with fabulous nutrients, I will also not forget my daily dose of collagen, elastin and keratin – hello healthy hair, glowing skin + strong nails and goodbye dull hair, wrinkles + nail breakage!

Looking for a delicious smooth recipe to incorporate this product into? Don’t worry, I got you covered – provided below is my favourite recipe for what a I like to call a “tropical delight ” smoothie:

  • 1/4 cup of frozen mango + banana
  • 1/4 cup of frozen avocado
  • 1 tbs of chia seeds
  • 1 tbs of flax seeds
  • 1 scoop of hemp protein powder
  • 1 healthy handful of spinach [or kale] – I find spinach blends better
  • 1/2 cup of coconut water
  • 5 drops of BioSil

Product Link

Amazon – BioSil

Cheers to healthy, glowing, long luscious locks + to “upping your hair game”!

Lots of love,

Sara Locke – XOXO

Panama City, Panama – Travel Diary

For my 30th birthday [Dec 09], my husband took me on a trip of a life-time to Panama City, Panama – out of all of our travels together this was one of our favourite destinations! To be quite honest, prior to traveling to Panama, I did not know much about this Central American country – I only really knew that there was a famous canal. However, I quickly discovered that this country was astoundingly diverse with a vibrant culture, the most friendly people, lively cities, amazing architecture and tranquil islands. It is safe to say I have officially fallen in love with this magical destination – a place that seems so undiscovered.

Casco Viejo

The historic ‘old quarter’ known as Casco Viejo is the heart and soul of Panama City – believe me when I say, I have never seen a more breathtaking photogenic neighborhood in my life. Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, there is no detail that goes unnoticed in Casco: cobblestone streets, trendy restaurants, chic boutiques and the most vibrant buildings you have ever laid eyes on.

As my husband and I have two family members residing in Casco, we were extremely lucky to have the most spectacular “Casco Viejo/Panama Guides” showing us all of the their favourite hot spots. After frequenting many boutiques and restaurants, we quickly fell in love with our top 4:

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The Pearl Islands – Isla Contadora

During our time in Panama, we ventured off to one of the Pearl Islands called Isla Contadora for the day. Since the island is only a two-hour ferry ride away from Panama City, many tourists [and locals] frequent this destination seeking a mini-island getaway. I am going to be honest and tell you that our ferry ride was less than “smooth sailing” – the ocean was not quite calm on this day.

As we were only on the island for the day, we did have a spectacular time riding around in a golf cart exploring this beautiful island [3km in total] full of lush forests and white sand beaches – including a deserted hotel + ferry boat! As we were on the island for a few hours, we did not have the opportunity to seek out the cuisine the island had to offer – our main focus was to explore the island + relax on the beach [objective = met].

Fun Fact: One of the original Survivors was filmed on the Pearl Islands!

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Trump Hotel

On my birthday my husband treated me to what was a spectacular stay at the Trump Hotel located in Panama City [although the entire trip exceeded my expectations].  This stunning hotel boasts one of the most breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean and the Panama City Skyline – truly picturesque!

As we had one full day at this hotel, we spent the majority of our time on the 13th floor at the Trump Ocean Club lounging by the infinity pool sipping champagne [of course] + basking in the sun – I mean with views exuding perfection, how could you not?

Following our day lounging, we had a spectacular dinner at one of the best restaurants in Panama called La Vespa – the Italian food was mouthwatering and the ambiance [with jazz music] was simply romantic.

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The Buenaventura Golf & Beach Resort

For two nights and three days we stayed at The Buenaventura Golf + Beach Resort [formally a JW Marriott]. Just like every destination we stayed at in Panama, this resort was simply breathtaking – coastal elegance at its best! As we allegedly went to this resort during their “off-season”, it truly felt like our own slice of heaven – a tranquil paradise is what I like to call it.

Being an Autograph Collection resort, everything was beyond perfection [minus the lack of restaurants open]. The resort had all of the necessary amenities you could ever hope for to allow for a relaxing getaway:

  • Relaxing pools [including infinity]
  • Delicious cocktails
  • Postcard worthy beaches + lush, tropical gardens
  • Tennis courts [my husbands heaven]
  • 18-hole Nicklaus Design golf course

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I hope that this post has truly inspired you to seek destinations you have never thought exploring and creating new memories.

Cheers to Panama + escaping to new places.

Lots of love,

Sara Locke – XOXO

My Top Toronto Fitness Studios

As the cooler months fade and the flowers begin to bloom, this is a time where many begin to countdown the months/days until bikini season. This is a perfect time to re-visit your personal health and wellness goals for 2017! I am someone who loves working out at various boutique lifestyle/fitness studios to keep myself motivated and to keep my body/muscles guessing. If you are someone like me, you are going to LOVE my top three studios which are all located in mid-town Toronto [I promise, you wont be disappointed]!

SpinCo Toronto [WEBSITE]

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Whether you want a challenge or you just want to have fun – SpinCo lets you focus on yourself to achieve your personal goals. Located at Yonge and Eglinton, SpinCo is one of my absolute favourite spin studios in Toronto – I promise you, the ride is like nothing you have experienced elsewhere! From the moment you enter the door until  the moment you leave, you will feel a sense of community, inspiration and positive energy from both the instructors and riders. With carefully picked playlists and movements [including low lights + a disco ball], you will be led through a 50 minute high-energy ride.

Based on the mantra one team – one bike, a sense of magic happens when you are in the room; you will find yourself not only getting stronger but you will also find a sense of inspiration from yourself and other riders – this will ignite your “bad ass” self which pushes you beyond what you thought was possible. Are you hooked yet?

Ps. The delicious and nutritious Greenhouse Juice [Website] has a location in SpinCo Toronto!

Studio Lagree [WEBSITE]

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I must admit, when I walked into the Lagree fitness studio for the first time I was intimidated; the Megaaremofer is no joke! All intimidation aside, after one sweaty but amazing class, I became hooked! Developed by fitness visionary, Sebastien Lagree, Lagree is an effective intensity but low- impact exercise that has been designed to effectively combine strength, endurance, cardio, balance, core and flexibility in each move. With three studios in Canada [Forest Hill, King West and Vaughan Mills] and many studios across the globe, this 50 minute total-body workout will help you build and achieve that long lean physic you have been wanting! Better yet, the Lagree Fitness Method and the Megaaremofer has been recognized to transform Hollywood’s hottest bodies [Sofia Vergara, Michelle Obama, Lea Michelle and many Victoria’s Secret models]! If that doesn’t entice you to try out this killer workout, than I don’t know what will!

BarreWorks [WEBSITE]

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Barreworks Works has expanded to two convenient locations in Toronto [Yonge and Queen]! With a variety of classes to suit all fitness levels [beginner to advanced], this is a studio I cannot get enough of! As the first Toronto studio to specialize in ballet barre-based fitness classes, each ballet-inspired class has been carefully crafted by top local dance and fitness professionals. Combining a variety fitness styles [muscle sculpting, cardio training, core conditioning, Pilates] into one dynamic and energizing workout, you will find your body becoming leaner and stronger with each movement. Trust me, your body will thank you later!

Lots of love,

Sara Locke – XOXO

2017 – Being Your Best Self

As the Christmas lights and fireworks fade, we begin to reflect on the year that has just past and what lies ahead for another new year [2017].  Like billions of others around the globe, we think endlessly about what our new years resolutions will be and how to stick with them; I  too have thought about what my 2017 resolutions will be – get fit, learn new hobbies, travel often, etc. However, with the abundance of options to choose from and with the sheer notion that I will most likely not stick to the resolutions, I have decided to be my best self in 2017 by making a lifestyle change [by forming new healthy habits] rather than making resolutions.

Here are the two top lifestyle changes that I will be making in 2017 with the hopes that this will provide you with some inspiration for you to also become your best self!

Clean Eating [Home Cooked Meals]

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As life becomes busy, we tend to eat out more and eat in less as it is seemingly quick and convenient. Like many of you, I too enjoy wining and dining at my favorite restaurants downtown Toronto [Yorkville in particular] while spending time with loved ones. However, if we eat out too often and we consume foods that are high in fat and calories, this can evidently become detrimental to our health – eating home cooked meals is a perfect way to kick-start your journey to leading a healthier life.

Whether we turn to mobile apps, the library or a book store [Chapters is my ultimate favorite], there are endless delicious and healthy recipes to choose from which are packed with nutritious ingredients [lean proteins, fresh vegetables and whole grains]. Some of my favorite cookbooks to choose from are: Oh She Glows, Made with Love and The Wellness Mama. I hope you love these cookbooks and recipes as much as I do – there is truly a recipe which is enjoyable for everyone!

Create a Sustainable Workout Routine

Prior to the start of each week, I take the time to plan out my week which ultimately consists of various networking events for business and social events with friends. Like many of you, although our weeks can often appear to be very busy and we want to nothing more than Netflix and Chill, it is important to take the time to exercise on a daily basis. This is done by creating a sustainable workout routine which is both realistic and enjoyable – exercise not only helps shrink our waste lines, it is also amazing for our mental health as it aids in stress relief, helps us sleep better and boosts are our overall mood.

You may be asking yourself “how can I find time to exercise when my days are busy!?” I know this all too well and to be very honest, what motivates me to ensure that I do not miss a workout, is by involving myself in various group workouts which have a strong community and support base – this keeps me on track and enjoying every moment of working out! Aside from attending my all-time favourite classes at  SpinCo and CrossFit, there are days where a 30 minute workout is all that I can fit in to my schedule. On days where I have many events/engagements to attend, I turn to my iPhone which has three of my top workout apps. Each workout can be completed in the comfort of your own home, at the park or at the gym with minimal equipment – to top it off, each high sweat workout can be completed within 30 minutes [I know, amazing]!

Sweat with Kayla [iTunes + Website]

Like me, many of you may [or many not] know Kayla Itsines from her world famous Instagram account! Kayla is a personal trainer who has one of the largest female fitness communities around the globe – she is known for her amazing Bikini Body Guide [BBG] which has inspired many to begin their journey of being comfortable and confident in their own skin.

Tone It Up [iTunes + Website]

Like Kayla Itsines, both Karena and Katrina [the founders of Tone It Up] are also famous for their Instagram account. When I first came across their Instagram account many years ago, I loved everything about these ladies and the community they have created; I loved nothing more than feeling like I was working out at the beach in California [although I wish I was really there]. The Tone It Up app is designed to keep yourself accountable and to provide you with extra motivation each morning with daily motivation, workouts [they are amazing] and check-in access with the Tone It Up Community!

Nike+ Training Club [iTunes + Twitter]

I am so happy that I was introduced to the Nike+ Training Club as it truly is the ultimate personal trainer! With various video workouts [very easy-to-follow], personalized training plans and expert advice guided by the world renound Nike Master Trainers, you will find yourself feeling motivated to train/workout anytime and anywhere!

Cheers to 2017: Being creative in the kitchen, being a healthier you and being your best self!

Lots of love,

Sara Locke – XOXO

Beauty Must-Haves

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It is hard to believe Christmas is just around the corner! In light of shopping season and the most wonderful time of the year, I wanted to share with you my all-time favourite must-have beauty products.

The Wet Brush [Website]

The Wet Brush is an absolute must-have all year round! For someone who has long and thick hair, this is a beauty tool that I cannot live without [it is truly a miracle worker].

I am certain everyone can relate to tangled hair which results in the dreaded snagging and breaking of hair – this brush will solve all of these problems!

Whether your hair is wet or dry; curly or straight; thick or fine – with its unique bristles, the Wet Brush will run effortlessly through your hair, detangling without pulling or tugging [amazing, right!?].

Cheers to beautiful, shinier and healthier looking hair.

Rodan + Fields – Redefine Cleansing Mask [Website]

The Redefine Cleansing Mask is my go-to cleanser for my daily skin care routine [I can’t live without it]! If you are someone who is like me and is looking for a great anti-aging skin care product [for firmer-looking and younger-looking skin], this Rodan + Fields best-selling cleansing mask [and Redefine Regimen] is a must-have for you!

The Redefine Regimen Clay Mask is not your typical anti-aging cleanser! Clinically-tested [via the right ingredients, the right formulation and the right order], the creamy, kaolin clay-based cleansing mask dries in two quick minutes, drawing impurities from pores without robbing skin of essential moisture. Environmentally safe, the tiny exfoliators gently smoothe the skin leaves your skin soft, silky and supple – talk about perfection!

Drybar – Dry Shampoo & Conditioner [Website]

Living in Canada and being a lover of all-things dedicated to long, wavy and luscious locks, I have always been someone who has admired the beautiful yellow and white Drybar Boutique via social media. To be quite honest, I could not have been more excited when Sephora began carrying the Drybar product line in various retail stores in Canada [thank you, thank you, thank you]!

As I am highly active throughout the week [taking various spinning classes at my all-time favorite SpinCo and CrossFit], I am someone who personally cannot live without dry shampoo and dry conditioner. If you are in need of a quick refresh after a great workout, Drybar’s Detox Dry Shampoo and Detox Dry Conditioner is a post-workout essential; you will be leaving the gym and/or your home with not only luscious looking hair, your hair will also feel hydrated, silky, fresh and clean! I can promise you, you will not be disappointed!

Brunette the Label – BLONDE Crew [Website]

Although this item is not a beauty product, I could not resist not sharing it! Last week my best girlfriend [who is Brunette] bought me the most perfect birthday gift – the BLONDE sweatshirt from Brunette the Lable. It is without-a-doubt my favourite sweatshirt of all time. Aside from it being the most cozy sweatshirt of all time, you can look comfy and chic with minimal effort [can I get an “Amen”!]. Pair it with jeans, leggings and even jean shorts [you will be sure to turn heads] – this is a staple for every blonde and brunettes closet!

Ps. This graphic sweatshirt is a perfect gift for every Betty or Veronica in your life!

Lots of love,

Sara Locke – XOXO